SEO Basics: Beginner’s Guide To Smart Search Engine Optimization
Does SEO seem confusing to you?!
Then, you are not the only one feeling like this. The lack of basic knowledge of SEO keeps site owners away from their true potential for years.
Don't worry! We have a comprehensive SEO guide for beginners.
When a beginner comes across the term "search engine optimization", the term sounds gibberish due to the lack of basic knowledge.
SEO basics from Code Me Right offer you comprehensive knowledge of SEO related terms. With that foundation, it becomes easier for you to walk comfortably down the challenging roads of SEO.
Here is what we have in our SEO basics guide for beginners.
- What is SEO?
- SEO Terminology
- The Need for SEO in the digital world
- SEO friendly website design
- Gaining visibility with keyword targeting
- Relation between quality content and ranking boost
- Tricks of on-page optimization
- Growing authority with link building
- Achieving brand power with social media
- Mapping success rate to upgrade
In one line, SEO is a set of rules that make your site visible to the target audiences through search engines.
The art of using SEO basics requires the understanding of various technicalities and a creative approach while leveraging them. Your SEO efforts help search engines understand your site and take it to the right audiences. And as you get better with this marketing approach, your position in the search results gets more and more powerful.
In an overview, Basic SEO for new website includes the website design, coding, content, the use of words and the promotion.
There are various technical terms that might confuse you in the beginning. Knowing definitions of these terms help you understand the advanced and complex techniques in future. Hence, we are starting this SEO guide for beginners with terminology.
Here are all the necessary search engine optimization terms with the definitions you should know as a beginner.
Call it a tool or a software, the job of Google Analytics is to provide you all the technical information about the site’s performance in the search engine. The regular insights help in improving the quality of the website by fixing or removing the troubling factors.
Algorithms are the technical programming in the digital world that brings the desired information to searchers.
Various algorithms work together to complete their specified tasks.
An anchor text is the set of words that are placed as a link. On clicking, the link takes the person to the associated page. The anchor text holds a great importance in link building and authority.
When a site gains the trust of the audience, the search engines start treating them as the prime source of the relevant information. Those kinds of sites are called the authoritative sites. The trust comes with the useful content and a disciplined approach towards marketing.
Backlinks are the way of getting links from the relevant web pages of other websites. The links drive more targeted traffic to your website and help in improving search engine rankings as well.
Browser caching allows the browsers to remember the multiple components of a web page. This helps browsers to easily load the page at the second time and after that. The process is used to reduce the load time of web pages.
Bounce rate is the percentage measure of the visitors that immediately leave your site after landing on one of your pages. So, it is obvious that high bounce rate is a bad thing for you. Also, the search engines give a great importance to the bounce rate while ranking your web page.
Anything that provides some sort of information in the digital world is called content. Hence, the text, images, articles, videos, and other types come under content altogether.
A canonical tag is used when the same content is available on more than one page of the same website. The tag allows the search engine to select the one page that you want to get ranked for.
The conversion rate is the percentage measure of the visitors who take the desired action after reading the given information. The conversion can be associated with sales, subscribing, sharing the content or any other action you desire from the visitors.
Duplicate content is the case when two or more pages on the internet provide the same content. According to the structure of the information, the content can be partially or completely duplicate. The issue arises within the pages of the same site, or between the pages of two different sites.
Fixing the duplicate content issue is necessary to keep the rankings and authority of the website high.
Domain name is the unique address that anyone can use to find your website on the internet. Usually, the domain name matches the name of the site. .com, .net and .co are the extensions commonly seen in the domain address.
Headings are the title tags that help in designing the format of the content. The heading tags include H1, H2, H3, H4 and so on. These tags are more than just the font and style factors. The hierarchy of the heading tags makes it easier for the search engine to crawl the page.
Indexing is the process of requesting the search engine to allow a web page to appear in the search results. Google crawls the page and decides when and where the web page should be added to the organic results.
A keyword can be a single word or a phrase used by a person to find the information on the search engine. For high content visibility, the art of finding relevant keywords and effectively using them in the content becomes extremely important.
The process of finding the relevant, high volume keywords with the help of tools and manual search is called the keyword research.
Link building comprises the techniques that help in earning high-quality links from authoritative websites. With quality content and knowledge of link building, the ranks keep on doing better and better.
Long Tail Keyword
When a keyword contains more than two or three words, it is called a long tail keyword. The balanced use of the short keywords and the long tail keywords is the perfect way of attracting target audiences.
Meta Keywords and Meta Description come under the Meta Tags. Meta Tags are for the search engines, so that, the programs can easily gather the information about a particular page.
Meta keywords are used to inform the search engine algorithms about the content. However, the importance of the meta keywords has decreased, as the search engines now evaluate the whole content to gather insights about a web page.
Meta Description is a short explanation of what a particular page contains. The purpose of the meta description is to provide the idea of the content to attract the potential audience. Which is why the use of right words becomes extremely crucial.
Noindex is used to deny indexing of a particular page. Every website has hundreds of pages, but not all of them have the information that’s worth to be presented in the search results. This is why this tag is used to keep the quality of ranking pages high.
Nofollow is a tag used when you don’t want Google to crawl a particular page. With this tag, the search engines don’t try to read or add that page to search results.
Every web page requires a few technical and creative optimization tricks to attain the maximum performance on the search results. These optimization techniques are called on-page SEO.
The manipulation techniques in order to gain high rankings on Google can lead the website to get penalized. However, sometimes the websites unintentionally neglect the search engine guidelines and get affected by one or more penalties. These penalties reduce the rankings of the website and can ban the website in some cases.
Ranking factors are the elements that search engines consider while providing the rankings in the organic search results. There are more than 1000 rankings factors that Google regularly update according to the market priorities.
Traffic refers to the number of people that visit your site or a web page. High rankings in the organic results help in getting more traffic. On the other side, high traffic on your website improve the search engine rankings. Hence, the SERP rankings and the traffic on your website are correlated.
White Hat SEO
The disciplined and ethical approach towards the SEO guidelines comes under the white hat SEO. The website owner creatively uses the SEO techniques without trying to manipulate the search engines.
Why Search Engine Optimization Is Important
Search engines are the programs that try to understand websites. But they don’t have the ability to experience content as humans do. Here come SEO basics with a set of rules that help search engines gather valuable insights regarding a web page. So, the basic SEO for website is to assist search engines in learning about a web page.
Another aspect of SEO is to ensure that actual people can also have a quality experience on your website. The content structure, navigation, inserted links and other techniques of white hat SEO help in improving the user experience of a website.
SEO basics help to organize content for search engine robots and actual people
There is a big difference between how an actual person sees a web page and how a robot sees it. For instance, a picture of a cat looks cute to an actual person, while the robots can only read the codes behind it. Hence, the content needs to have features that satisfy both the targets.
Search engines analyze how people react to a web page
Search engines realize the flaws when it comes to understanding the content. To overcome that issue, search engines analyze the reaction of the actual people towards a web page. If a web page gets more attention from the people, search engines evaluate who is interested in the content and how many people are using that piece of content. This way, it becomes easier for the robots to learn the idea behind that web page.
Among the thousand techniques of SEO basics, many directly work towards improving the user experience and the usefulness of the web page.
In a nutshell, you can say that SEO shows two paths for the websites. One goes via search engines to the actual people, while the other path reaches search engines through actual people.
How does an SEO perfect website get created?!
An SEO friendly website design approach includes multiple guidelines. Some of the SEO friendly website design guidelines focus on the search engine robots. On the other hand, many factors target the user experience for the actual people.
Let’s talk about them one by one!
a. Perfect domain name
It all starts with the name of your domain.
Domain name offers the address for your business, through which, anyone can find your website on the internet. But it is not just an address. The domain name of your website offers the brand power to the business as well. So, the selection of the right domain name becomes critically important.
Achieving a balance between brand power, SEO basics and business relevance is the key to finding a perfect domain name for your business.
Here is a complete guide to domain name SEO.
b. Responsiveness towards mobile
As the Google is moving towards mobile-first index, having a mobile-friendly design of the website becomes a necessity. The site needs to be created to fit seamlessly to the screens of every device. The layout, content and the images, all the elements should be designed, keeping the mobile responsiveness in mind.
While doing so, it is important to focus on the user experience, as Google wants to serve the users with quality web experience. This surely helps to enhance and maintain high rankings on organic results. But the hidden advantages of a responsive web design include customer loyalty, high conversion rates and authoritative image of the website.
There are multiple factors to care about when you are looking for mobile friendliness. Find an in-depth discussion:
c. Navigation structure
A website design is incomplete without an effective navigation structure.
Navigation is the path that you provide to a visitor to reach relevant pages on your website. Multiple SEO elements are combined together to ensure the quality and convenience in site navigation. Here are a few of them:
- The menu on the top of the site
- The XML Sitemaps on the website
- The structure of the URLs
- Links to the related posts
And much more!
The idea behind the navigation is to provide the possible relevant directions to the visitor. This way, the visitor spends more time on the website, which keeps the bounce rate down and improves the chances of conversion as well.
d. Page load speed
With unlimited choices on the internet, no one likes to wait! On an average, the visitor waits for 3 to 4 seconds for a web page to load. Anything more than that, and the visitor says goodbye to that page. This is the reason why search engines also carry page load speed as an important ranking factor.
Not only should the web pages be able to load immediately on the desktop, but also on the mobile devices. Google provides the guide on page load speed in the search console. Also, there are tools offered to test the speed of the web pages on mobile devices.
A few things that can help you ensure the high page load speed are:
- Get a reliable hosting service to get a quick response from the server.
- Decrease the bandwidth of the large size pages. This process is called compression.
- Ensure browser caching to help the browsers load your web pages faster.
- Keep the images within the balance of quality and size.
- Try to avoid too many redirects.
- Make sure that you don’t have too many plugins.
What is keyword targeting, and what tool can be used for keyword targeting?
No SEO guide for beginners is useful without keyword research knowledge.
Your website is a product on the internet. And that product needs to be visible in front of the right market to get sold. The right people are always out there searching for needed information on the search engines. You just need to tap into the right market with keyword targeting.
When you use targeted words and phrases on your website, the search engines showcase your site to the right people. However, keyword targeting can become overwhelming for beginners. But, the right approach towards the keyword research and analysis leads to successful targeting.
a. Find effective keyword tools
The first thing you need to do is find reliable tools and platforms in order to gain keywords. Keyword tools help you find the exact words that people use to find information and products online.
Google provides valuable resources to find data on keywords. The tools such as Google AdWords, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends and Google Correlate help in gathering valuable data. In fact, you can even leverage Google search to gather effective and useful keywords.
Apart from Google tools, there are many other free as well as paid tools such as Keywordtool.io, SEMrush and many others.
Here is a detailed discussion on finding valuable keywords for free:
b. Learn to conduct keyword research
Conducting a keyword research is an art in itself. You need to understand your product, then, understand the market for that product in the digital world.
Always start with analyzing your own site and business for core keywords. These core words become the foundation of the in-depth research of keywords. The name of your product or service, business type, business location, and other foundational information pieces help in conducting a keyword research.
Apart from evaluating your own site, you should spend some time to gather core words from your competitors as well. Then, you can move towards using these core words on the available tools.
Focus on these factors while using your core words during keyword research:
- The relevance of the keyword with the content you desire on your website.
- The ability of the keyword to drive the amount of traffic you desire.
- Your own capacity to evaluate the data provided for the keyword list.
c. Evaluate the obtained data
During the selection of the keywords, your own understanding and beliefs regarding your product or service can become a limitation. However, there is no need to avoid your beliefs. You are the one who knows what is best for your site. The only thing you need to do is blend your beliefs with the data you attain for the keywords.
Get help from these guides to find and evaluate keywords:
- Long Tail Keywords: How To Find And Target Them Effectively
- Perfect Guide On Useful Keyword Research For SEO
How do search engines learn content quality and give rankings?
Search engines have the responsibility of presenting highly useful and relevant information for the searchers. The satisfaction of the searcher is the idea behind the existence of search engines. And that is why the search results get regular updates and shuffles in the rankings.
The quality of the content is the ultimate factor that decides your ranks in the search results. However, search engines can’t experience the content like humans. Which is why they leverage other indicators to gain the idea of the quality. Hence, this SEO guide for beginners introduces both technical and creative traits of content quality.
a. Technical indicators of quality content
The only way search engines can understand the usability of the content is by aligning multiple technical indicators together. There are three major indicators that help the search engines:
- The click through rate and the time spent by the searcher on a page.
- The information provided in a piece of content.
- The numbers and the quality of links of the page.
All these three indicators are aligned together to make ranking shifts in a search result.
b. Properties of quality content
“Quality” seems very generic we talk about content. Anyone can tell you to create quality content on your site. But what does it actually mean?
Well, there are certain characteristics that make a content unique and high-quality. A quality content:
- Offers a perfect answer to the query requested.
- Provides information that is straightforward and leads to a certain action.
- Becomes useful for the searcher in the journey of search.
- Comfortable and easy to understand.
- Offers factual and credible information.
- Formatted to ensure convenience in the navigation.
Every website has something unique to offer. And these factors provide the foundation for the goal of creating high-quality, useful and comfortable content.
c. Producing useful content regularly
Understand the intent of the searcher and make content that resonates with that intent. This is what helps you producing unique content for SEO. But bringing the regularity and the consistent flow in the website requires a well-defined approach.
The research, the ideas, writing style and formatting, it all matters. Here is a complete guide to bringing consistency to your content production quality.
- How To Empower Your SEO With Continuous Unique Content
How to present your web page to search engines?
Creating content is the first part of the job, the representation is what allows search engines to understand your web page. These representation techniques are called on-page optimization. These techniques allow Google and other search engines to read your web page and give it a suitable place in search results. However, a few on-page features are used to help out the searchers to improve the number of visits.
a. Keep meta tags sharp and clear
Meta tags include title tag and the meta description. They both appear on the search result page. The effectiveness of meta tags impresses search engines as well as the potential visitors. These tags require clear and sharp approach, so that, readers and search engines can easily understand what is on that web page.
Here are a few valuable tricks to follow while creating meta tags for your web page:
- Include your target keyword in the meta title. You can add the keyword in the meta description as well, but only if it is really needed there.
- Try to be as natural as possible while writing meta title and description. There no need to complicate it, just focus on the core idea of the webpage.
- Focus on the benefits rather than the features in order increase the CTR.
- Do not misguide the potential visitors with a false statement. This will increase the bounce rate of your page.
b. Create easy and effective URLs
A URL is the address of a particular page, which searchers can see just below the title of the page in a search result.
While creating URLs for your pages, it is important to stay concise and effective. You need to make your URLs as simple as possible. Shorter is always better, in this case, however, you don’t want to confuse people. So, target the simplicity before the length. Simpler URLs become more attractive when it comes to sharing.
Here are a few tricks for creating an SEO friendly URL:
- Always customize your URLs to make it more relevant to the content piece.
- Avoid unnecessary keyword stuffing.
- If you are using the page title in the URL, carefully skip the filler words (of, to, as, for…)
- Make sure that the URL offers the clear meaning to the web page.
- Do not change your URLs after creating. But if you have to, then, use redirects to avoid the issue of duplicate content.
c. Format the content body for readability
As user experience and readability are important ranking factors, you need to pay close attention to the content body format on your page. Instead of making long and boring pieces of content, format the body to give is a structure that helps in reading. Your message gets conveyed easily, which improves the popularity of the webpage. More and more people share your content on social media platforms.
Here is what you need to do:
- Create comprehensive content that clearly answers the requested query.
- Format the structure of the body with headings and subheading.
- Leverage descriptive subheadings to make it easy to understand.
- Place target keyword in a natural manner.
- Use LSI keywords in subheadings whenever possible.
- Avoid too much keyword stuffing in the content body.
- Internally link other relevant web pages of your site to improve the user experience.
You can find more on On-page SEO basics:
How to leverage link building for search marketing?
Search engines have been using links for understanding the value of a page for a long time now. The advanced algorithms have been introduced to improve the link structure analysis. All these technologies help search engines to look at the number, quality, and relevance of the links on a webpage. This is the reason why SEO professionals and site owners put a lot of effort in gaining quality links.
Link building is a process of marketing that includes various techniques. However, there are the right methods and wrong methods of link building. And obviously, the right approach serves for a long time in gaining authority.
In this SEO guide for beginners, you will learn ethical ways to build sustainable and relevant backlinks.
a. Research your potential link providers
The first and the foremost step of link building is to understand your potential link providers. The identification and the segmentation of the link providers is the way you can strategize your link marketing campaign.
Here are the major potential link providers you need to research for:
- Company officials
- Regular customers
- Clients and suppliers
- Industry influencers
These 4 categories can give a kick start to your site in terms of link building.
b. Creating content that link providers prefer
Eventually, with regular monitoring, you start understanding what the link providers prefer and like to link to. With that knowledge, you can start targeting your content strategy for different groups of link providers.
- Offer blogs, infographics, and videos to help out your customers.
- Provide comprehensive content pieces that attract industry influencers.
- Share your industry knowledge to gain authoritativeness.
- Showcase your suppliers and clients in a spotlight with content pieces.
All these methods will help you create content pieces that will attract your potential link providers.
c. Market your content
Though a quality content piece gains automatic links, pushing the content would enhance the pace of link building.
Start by focusing on the goal you want to achieve with the links. It can be the high traffic, rank enhancement, or maybe both. Focusing on a clear goal helps in designing the linking strategy.
- Get in touch with the potential link providers via email, social media, and direct approach.
- Inform about the new and updated content pieces to the relevant people.
- Don’t get too pushy while marketing for links.
If you are a beginner in link building, this guide can help you understand important factors:
How to use social media SEO basics
The rise of social media has affected the SEO functionality to a huge extent. With the exponential growth of social sharing, Google started focusing on the signals given from the social media platforms. As a result, now brands put great efforts on social media marketing in order to achieve those positive signals that become rewarding for SEO.
There are three foundational basics you need to learn about social media optimization:
a. Profile creation
First and foremost, you need to create a profile of your business on various social media platforms. Major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn should become the prime focus. However, other platforms such as Pinterest, Snapchat and others can also be leveraged, depending on the type of business you have.
Keep the following tips in mind while creating social profiles for your business:
Provide the same brand name and logo on all profiles. Make sure it matches the name of your official website.
- Inform about your business with a short and attractive description.
- Link all your social media profiles to the official website.
- Provide sharing buttons on your website for all the platforms.
b. Consistent sharing
Social media marketing requires consistency. If you want to build a strong audience base, it requires a consistent creative approach towards posting. From event pictures to blog posts, all need to go on social media in a creative manner.
Focus on these tips to stay consistent on social media:
- Share at least 3 to 4 times a week.
- Share during the peak hours of the day. Avoid evening times.
- Don’t overshare. Follow a set schedule to share a certain number of posts every week.
- Use high-quality images and videos as much as possible.
c. Keyword targeting
Apart from the consistency, your social media profiles require keyword targeting as well. Finding the relevant terms that are being searched on social media platforms can help you gain more visibility.
Here are a few tips on finding and targeting keywords on social media:
- Leverage tools like keywordtool.io, hashtagify.me to find valuable keywords for YouTube and Twitter respectively.
- Use core business keywords in your profiles and relevant keywords while creating your post.
- Do not stuff too many keywords anywhere in your profile or post.
- Make sure that you use hashtags (#) on Twitter, as it designates a particular word as a keyword.
- Be creative to bring a natural approach to keyword use
How to track SEO success
After making all the efforts to market your website all over the digital world, you need to keep on tracking and upgrading. Yes, the process never ends! Your efforts turn into results and you map the success of search engine optimization by evaluating those results.
There are three major results that can help you map the success rate and upgrade:
a. Traffic analysis
Traffic analysis includes the number of visitors your web pages attain. With your efforts, you will attain traffic from organic search results, direct, social media and referrals as well. Segmenting the traffic according to the acquisition helps in improving SEO efforts for better results.
Take the following tips when you are analyzing traffic:
- Connect your Google Analytics profile with the Google Search Console for more in-depth insights.
- Look at the acquisition report for various web pages along with the acquisition resource.
- Make a list of pages that are getting less than 50 visits per month. These are the ones that require better optimization and remarketing.
b. Keyword performance evaluation
There are two types of keywords that affect the performance of your web pages.
- Keywords that you deliberately target on your web pages to rank for.
- Keywords that search engines start ranking your site for, in a long run.
The performance evaluation needs to be done for both the types. Your analytics tool provides all the keywords that your web pages are ranking for. In Google Search Console, you can go to the “Query” section and find the keywords that are giving you impressions. Then, follow the steps mentioned below:
- Look at the number of impressions, average position and CTR for various keywords.
- Make a separate excel list of the keywords that are giving you good traffic already.
- If those keywords are relevant, target them either on the same page or create a whole new page focused towards that particular keyword.
c. Conversion rate
Revenue is the ultimate way of mapping the success rate of all your SEO efforts. The number of leads, sales and profit become helpful in deciding the future strategy. Evaluating the conversion rate will make it easy for you to keep the ROI (Return on Investment) high.
Hopefully, you have found valuable answers in this SEO guide for beginners and now ready to take initial actions. Make sure you keep on learning more, as the SEO has much more to offer beyond SEO basics for your digital business.